I have been driving myself crazy recently questing for something that for years I felt was either impossible or, maybe, just wasn’t mentally possible for me:
Outlining novels quickly, efficiently, and relatively accurately — while still leaving enough breathing room to develop the novel.
Plotting has always been a weakness of mine. I have tons of beautiful, brilliant opening scenes that have been discarded because they go nowhere. I have a tendency to wander around in my fiction, exploring fascinating characters from all angles. Sadly, this means that rewriting is a pain.
No. I mean a REAL pain.
Each of my last two books have taken just under 2 years each, and my current one — the one I will have to start over on from scratch AGAIN — is 2 years in and a complete mess.
This is not sustainable. I cannot ever be a professional novelist with this slow an output unless I won the lottery and had a breakout series — and, even if I did, I would CONSTANTLY BE PULLING MY HAIR OUT because I would never know if I could write another good book again, because I don’t know how I did it in the first place.
Let me express by example my level of desperation. I am currently reading:
-“Writing the Breakout Novel” by Donald Maas
-“Story Structure Architect” by Victoria Schmidt
-Cat Valente’s post about “How to Write a Novel in 30 Days”
-Jeff Vandermeer’s post about “How to Write a Novel in 2 Months”
-John Brown’s many posts on writing
-Jim Butcher’s many posts on writing
-(watching) Dan Well’s 7-point plotting system http://youtube.com/w/?v=KcmiqQ9NpPE&feature=relmfu
Many of these I have read before and just couldn’t use. Many of these I have tried before and failed. This all feels pretty darn desperate, doesn’t it? That’s a lot of bashing my head into a wall that has never cracked before, isn’t it?
But I have to find a solution.
I have to be able to plot a novel ahead of time and have a pretty good idea of the layout. It is the only way I feel I can be commercially viable and artistically consistent as a writer.
…And, strangely, I may be close to one that works for me.
…And if this seat-of-the-pants-writer can learn plot, maybe my journey can help others, too.
We’ll discuss what I’ve discovered so far in the next post.